To introduce myself, my name is Nicole Kvasnyuk. I have been married to my high school sweetheart Dmitry for five years now. We had our beautiful baby girl Naomi earlier this year and she is just a joy to have around, making this Christmas extra special. I have the privilege of being a close friend to Yuli and Irina and would just like to give a sincere thank you to them and the Sweet Somethings blog for having me on as a guest. I am honored.
I don’t consider myself an expert on home décor, but it certainly is a hobby of mine. I like to approach it by having fun and working with what I have on hand. My found love for decorating and making things pretty fits perfectly with my love for hosting friends and family. We are gathering for our family Christmas dinner at our home this year and I thought I would share some of my tips for decorating with you.
Make an Impression This Christmas by Setting the Scene…
“Taking the time to get your place party-ready is important in the overall impression that is made on your guests. You can create the mood you want by making considered choices when it comes to lighting, music, and a host of other ideas that all add up to a personal statement. Make choices that are right for you and your guests, being as formal or informal as you like.”- Susan Spungen author of What’s a Hostess to Do?
There is a saying that we eat with our eyes and this is certainly true. Imagine your best dinner experience. Whether it was during the holidays, an anniversary, or on the beach with sand in your toes; no matter how delicious the food was, the setting completed the sensory experience and created a lasting memory. That is the very essence of this post, setting the table to reflect who you are with your unique personal touches.
Here are four simple and practical ways to dress up your Christmas dinner (or any dinner you host) that will make an impression.
1.) Invest In Table Linens:
This is something that is worth investing in over time. Placemats, formal dinner napkins, table cloths, table runner, chargers and napkin holders. Start with solid colors. Neutrals such as white, gray, beige or metallics are the perfect foundation to build from. You can then mix and match as I have here with the beige on white and accents of gold. I found most of these at Home Goods. Don’t have it all? Don’t worry! Work with what you have. Paper napkins can still look dressy. Add a festive touch with plaid napkins for the holiday or a simple white paper napkin with a napkin ring.
Table Runner or Table cloth?: It all depends on your dinner table. I like to use a runner to give my farm house dining table the spot light as a centerpiece to our room. For this more formal dinner party I am using a white table cloth that I folded into a “mock” runner to accent the table and lighten the décor. To add depth, I added a fresh garland that I picked up at Trader Joes (which doubled as décor for our Friendsgiving dinner party.) I love how it looks and just makes the mood more festive.
2.) Make Unique Place Settings:
Use dinnerware and silverware that corresponds with your menu. We are having appetizers and an entree so I set the table with dinner and salad plates. Dress up the Christmas punch with some finer glassware; mine happens to be wine glasses-simple and pretty. Now for the personal touch; there is something so classy when you come to a dinner party and see your name on a place card. It makes it personal and allows the host to make everyone feel welcome, saying, “YOU were invited and we have a place for just for YOU!” It’s so simple but makes such an impact. I like to keep a stash of construction paper or, my personal favorite, chalkboard paper for this very reason. Just cut to size, fold, and in your best penmanship, write your guests’ names.
Go the extra step: Add in a napkin ring, because it’s all in the details! Something as fancy as a napkin ring with your monogram, or as simple as making your own with some Christmas tree branches. I happened to find mine in my own backyard.
- Dry the branches overnight. (It’s been raining here a lot in the PNW)
- Cut about a 6 inch piece of decorative twine.
- Cut the branch to the length of about 4 inches to loop and make into a napkin ring
- Tie both ends together into a bow
Ta-da! You have yourself a festive and simple addition to your place-setting.
3.) Add Florals:
Yes! Fresh flowers automatically freshen up and give life to the room. While you are out picking up delicious ingredients for your favorite Sweet Somethings recipe, go to the floral department! Even the simplest of flower arrangements goes a long way. Pick up a bundle of seasonal flowers, but avoid prearranged flowers, I have found that the prearranged flowers are half the quality and double the cost. Two or three types of flowers can be easily combined to create your own bouquets. I went to Haggen and found these mini poinsettias to which I attached ribbon to match our table setting, complement with baby’s breath bunches, (a favorite of mine), and arranged them into three petite vases. As I learned in my Interior Design classes, things look aesthetically pleasing in odd numbers, so stick to those and keep in mind that the shape of your table will dictate your arrangement(s). In my opinion, a long rectangular/oval table is asking for a few smaller arrangements. But for a smaller, round table I would do one larger floral arrangement. Pro Tip: Test out the height of your flowers at the table before trimming. This will avoid the mistake of over-cutting or under-cutting and will determine your choice of vase. Last thing we want at our dinner party is a case of the table “blind spot” where all you can see past the flowers is your friend’s lovely up-do!
4.) Create The Right Ambiance:
I would say ambiance is my husband’s favorite contribution to the dinner party. He loves setting the tone of the evening with a carefully chosen playlist in the background. Creating the right atmosphere for your occasion includes what your guests will smell, hear, see when they arrive. All your beautiful décor can be highlighted with soft lighting. Add a sense of warmth and intimacy by lighting a fire if you have a fireplace. And make sure you have some music playing quietly in the background to welcome your guests. Candles burning low at the table will bring a sense of time passing ever so slowly and encourage everyone to slow down and linger at the table.
Relax and take time to enjoy all of your hard work and décor as you spend time with the ones you love.
Merry Christmas from our family to yours!